A Subtle Passion For Good

For his directorial debut, John Malkovich makes a meticulous, absorbing movie about a terrorist

Dead dogs hang from the lampposts in the capital of a mythical South American country. Attached to their carcasses are literate, even ironic, signs announcing a pre-revolutionary terrorist campaign directed at the corrupt and fascist local regime. An honest, weary cop, Augustin Rejas (Javier Bardem), is assigned to investigate. In particular, he must track down "Ezequiel," in whose name the increasingly violent terrorist campaign is being prosecuted.

Rejas' methods are patient and plodding and based on those actually used to peacefully apprehend Abimael Guzman, leader of Peru's Shining Path movement a decade ago. The Dancer Upstairs is also, in its...

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